WHAT IS GUM DISEASE?
In the broadest sense, the term Gum disease, describes bacterial growth and the production of particles that gradually destroy the tissue surrounding and supporting the teeth.
THE STAGES OF GUM DISEASE?
Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two main stages of gum disease.
Each stage is diagnosed by what a dentist sees and feels in your mouth, and by what's happening under your gum line. Although gingivitis usually precedes periodontitis, it's important to note that not all gingivitis will progress to periodontitis.
The first stage of Gum disease is known as Gingivitis. This is when the only the gums are affected and can be reversible.
People who do not have good oral hygiene and neglect to brush or floss their teeth, are often prone to gingivitis. If not treated properly, the gum infection will happen again and may cause serious gum disease or tooth loss.
The main cause of “inflammation of the gum’s”, is plaque on your teeth or gums. Cleaning your teeth by brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. However, plaque that is not removed can eventually harden and form “tartar”, which is a breeding ground for bacteria. Tartar sticks to your teeth, and can't be cleaned with ordinary brushing. Tartar can only be removed by a professional dentist or dental hygienist.
If not treated Gingivitis can progress to the next stage and lead to more serious destructive forms of gum disease called periodontitis or periodontal disease.
THEREFORE IT IS IMPORTANT TO SEE YOUR DENTIST REGULARLY.
Periodontitis is the 2nd stage of gum disease. At this point, the inner layer of the gum and bone recedes from the teeth forming tiny pockets. These pockets between the teeth and gums can collect debris and may become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Meanwhile bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes which are fighting the infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. As gum disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed.
Anyone at any age is susceptible to gum disease. You can lose your teeth from gum disease because it attacks not only the gums, but the bone as well. It is the bone that helps your teeth stay in place. When the disease has reached periodontitis, your teeth become loose and eventually fall out as the bone literally dissolves away from around your teeth.
The link between poor oral hygiene and poor overall health is well documented. The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body, It here that diseases and infection can enter via your mouth. Oral bacteria found in patients with gum disease can enter into the blood stream. From here it can travel throughout the body. Inflammation sets in, but your body's immune response sometimes falls short and can cause serious problems such as:
- Lung Infections in people with chronic lung disease
- A weakened immune system that can slow down wound healing and reduce a person's response to hepatitis B and flu vaccines.
- Stroke - a new study of fatty deposits lodged in carotid arteries of stroke sufferers shows that 70% contain bacteria and 40% of that bacteria comes from the mouth.
- Heart Disease - Studies have found the incidence of heart disease is almost , twice as high in people with gum disease. Bacteria get mixed up with blood-clotting cells called platelets, they combine together forming a clump that travels through the blood vessels. These clumps of cells and bacteria inflame the vessel walls and promote the formation of heart stopping blood clots. The inflammation also produces a type of protein that can irritate the inside of blood vessels creating areas where fatty deposits can form.
- Infective Endocarditis- a potentially fatal disease where the inner lining of the heart becomes inflamed.
- Diabetes - Studies have shown that diabetics with gum disease were three times more likely to have heart attacks than those without gum disease.
- Spontaneous pre-term births - women with gum disease are 7 - 8 times more likely to give birthprematurely to low-birth-weight babies. Researchers believe that the low-grade infection causes damaged cells to release inflammation
HOW IT STARTS.
Gum disease begins with plaque, which is always forming on your teeth, even without you knowing it. If the plaque is not removed on a daily basis, it will form tartar or calculus, which is a breeding ground for the germs that cause gum disease.
It is important to note that many other factors, such as the following also affect the health of your mouth and gums and contribute to gum disease;
- Tobacco smoking or tobacco chewing
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes
- Some types of medication such as steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Fillings that have become defective
- Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives
- Clenching or grinding your teeth
- Poor nutrition